Sills-less Hornets fall in second round
The end of the 2002 football season may not have come the way the Chelsea Hornets had hoped, a 14-0 loss at the hands of now 12-0 North Jackson High School on the road last Friday night.
But the second round state playoff appearance and 8-4 overall final record by Watt Parker’s squad marked a tremendous positive turnaround from a year ago when Chelsea was 0-10.
&uot;The guys played hard. It just shows you what you can accomplish when you work hard,&uot; said Parker, who completed his first year at the helm of the Hornets. &uot;I’m just as proud of the guys as I could be. They worked their fannies off.&uot;
Moments after falling to North Jackson on a rain soaked field a nearly three-hour drive and some 160 miles from home, Parker said, &uot;These guys have given it everything they’ve got. That’s what we asked.&uot;
Parker pointed out that his boys had just played a very good football team and could easily have rolled over.
North Jackson had not lost a football game since last year’s state playoffs.
According to Parker, &uot;If we don’t show up and play out guts out, we could have been beaten 65-0.&uot;
The coach said he and his staff had to make some adjustments at the half, that North Jackson did some things early that hurt the Hornets and that several Chelsea players had to play out of position.
Parker had words of praise for Matt Ling, who he said made several great receptions and some great runs after those catches, as well as
Shelby Neill at center, who played with injury.
Parker said the hard work ethic of the Hornets actually began last spring.
He said the players did everything the coaching staff asked of them. He said practice began at 7 a.m. Monday mornings and after school.
He said the players also had study hall. And he said he had 20 plus workouts for the boys, and several of his players made every one.
Parker said, &uot;All year long we told the guys we didn’t gauge success on W’s and L’s but how we worked and played.&uot; Parker said in retrospect if he had called a better game, his team probably could have beaten North Jackson.
Parker said his seniors have set a high bar for the younger guys to work on. And he said many have already taken it to heart and are already talking about getting bigger and stronger.
Defensively against North Jackson, Parker had words of praise for Terrell Watkins and Brandon Hartley. Offensively, in addition to Neill and Ling, Parker praised the performances of receivers Sam Russell and Jeremy Pilkington.
Headed into the next season, said Parker, the Hornets will lose 13 seniors…
all but two starters on defense and all but six on offense. Lost to the offense will be the quarterback, fullback, tailback, center and both guards.
But Parker is confident the offense will be okay with a great corps of receivers and a good backup at quarterbacked and fullback.
He said tailbacks were all seniors, and he will have to see how ninth graders in those positions step up.
On defense he will return starters at
defensive end and outside linebacker and one tackle who saw playing time.
Parker confirmed that Emmett Sills, the standout of the Hokes Bluff game the week before and most of the season, had
quit the team the for personal reasons the Tuesday before the North Jackson contest. Still Parker said
he wished Sills the best and would try to help him
On the night, Chelsea quarterback Zack Myers was four of 13 passing for 97 years. And backup quarterback D.J. McGuire was one of
two through the air for 30 yards.
Rushing for the Hornets were John Hillin, five carries for 19 yards; William Woo, 11 carries for 30 yards; and Myers, five carries for 28 yards.
Receiving for Chelsea were Woo, two for eight; Ling, two for 94 yards; and Pilkington, one for 25 yards.
Jason Dunkerley punted six times for 210 yards and a 35 yard average.
Woo returned two kicks for 48 yards, and Clay Craft returned one kick for 14 yards.
On defense, Woo had four tackles, Brad Bearden had four tackles and three assists; Ryan Dempsey had five tackles and four assists; Andrew Lafferty has five tackles and two assists; Craft had four tackles and one assist; Hartley had seven tackles and one assist; Neill had three tackles and one assist; Watkins had four tackles and four assists; and Rusty Lambert had three tackles.
In all the Hornets made nine first downs and put together 195 yards total offense.
North Jackson threw no passes, ground out 298 yards on 58 carries and earned 16 first downs.
Both teams fumbled once, and North Jackson lost one of theirs. And both teams were penalized for 30 yards.
The Hornets held the Chiefs scoreless throughout the second half and drove as deep at the North Jackson 3-yard line. But
Chelsea turned the ball over on downs with about three minutes left in the contest. And North Jackson held on for the win
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